Book reviews - fiction 5 to 11 (page 6)

Doll Bones by Holly Black

 A chilling story, haunting and memorable which really crosses between this age group and fiction for 11+. Imaginative twelve-year-old Zach is too old to play with toys, says his father. But even though he stops hanging out with Poppy and Alice, stops playing with his action figures, it's no good, he can't escape the one toy that still wants to play with him. China doll or a doll that's made from the bones of a dead girl, The Queen creeps her way into Zach's dreams. The only way to end the game is to lay the doll to rest forever. It's time for a journey to Spring Grove cemetery.  Scary? Creepy? Yet there's a light touch that makes it readable without too much terror.

The Burning Shadow (Gods and Warriors Book 2) by Michelle Paver

This story transports the reader back beyond times which are familiar; beyond the tine of the Greek myths. Hylas is struggling against evil enemy, The Crows and he needs the support of those around him - people he doesn't yet know. But he does have his old ally Pirra at his side and together they must strive to save the island of Thalakrea. The authentic background brings reality to the book despite its element of magic and the reader will really support Hylas and Pirra who are well depicted and strong characters. Read Book 1 first though - The Outsiders (Gods and Warriors Book 1). One of the best authors around and a series which promises to become a classic.

The Case of the Feathered Mask (Maisie Hitchins) by Holly Webb

Maisie Hitchins is back with a new detective adventure perfect for girls who are starting to enjoy reading on their own and want a series they can really get stuck in to. Maisie lives in Victorian London - a world where girls are supposed to know their place but our heroine is determined to find adventure. Professor Tobin has returned from his world travels with some wonderful objects which he plans to donate to the British Museum. But a thief steals a precious item and it's up to Maisie to solve the mystery. A highly enjoyable read with super illustrations.

Secrets According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney

A new adventure for Humphrey, the classroom hamster, His class are learning all about Ancient Egypt and its a world full of mystery - and there seem to be things going on that Humphrey doesn't know about and he doesn't like that! Humphrey is an irrepressible character, full of charm and fun. The stories flow easily and young readers will quickly be caught up in Humphrey's world, and the pupils and teachers at school.

The Runaways by Elizabeth Goudge

A classic novel with a vivid evocation of early twentieth century Britain. Nan, Robert, Timothy and Betsy escape from their grandmother into the village and find themselves taken to the house that belongs to their uncle Ambrose. Gruff but loveable Uncle Ambrose agrees to take them under his wing, letting the children have free reign in his sprawling manor house and surrounding countryside. The children find a wonderful life of freedom, magic and nature. Beautifully depicted characters and countryside make for an excellent read. It's great to see this reissued and I hope parents and teachers will encourage children to read this and find the joy of Elizabeth Goudge's work.

Dream On, Amber by Emma Shevah Amber

 Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto - a small girl with a big name - and a big imagination to match. But there's a big hole in Amber's life - her dad left when she was a little girl. Amber is 11 and it's time to start at a new school - a worrying time when you are very tiny and what's more, have a really ancient phone. But Amber doesn't give in easily and is determined to sort things out for herslef. Told in the first person, you will warm to Amber and her warm and personal perspective on life. A good read for girls of 8+ who enjoy family and school stories.

Red by Libby Gleeson

A girl who has forgotten her name wakes in the aftermath of a cyclone which hit Sydney. She is rescued by a young boy, Peri, who calls her Red; Peri encourages her to escape from the damaged city... but 'Red' finds a memory stick on a chain around her neck which tells her who she is - and that she has a father. The stick contains vital information which must be taken to Melbourne. A dangerous cross-country journey is vividly depicted as Red makes her choices. The gripping start is followed by a well-crafted story packed with excitement and adventure.

Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose by Tim Healey

If you have a child who is just beginning to enjoy reading for themselves and who enjoys madcap adventures, then do take a look at this hilarious series. The school is overrun with ghosts and ghouls from the past but Mortimer Keene knows he has the answer with his Phantom Machine. The rhyming text is full of humour and really draws the reader through the story - fabulous to read aloud as long as your audience don't miss out on the joy of the zany ilustrations. The layout will really appeal to the young reader - the strong black, blue and white has instant impact. Excellent!

Opal Moonbaby Forever by Maudie Smith

She's back! Opal is Martha's best friend - a best friend who comes from another planet and who can do all sorts of amazing things.Opal can move things with her eyes, make popcorn fountains, and travel all over the world in her very own spaceship. But sadly for Martha, Opal's time on Earth is almost at an end so they need to make the most of their summer together. Somehow, though, Opal seems to have changed and Martha doesn't understand why. What is Opal's secret? An out-of-the-ordinary story but with two very believable and likeable girls; a super story of friendship.

The Secret Dinosaur: Giants Awake (The Dinotek Adventures) by N S Blackman

These are not dinosaurs of the past - they are very much dinosaurs of today. Just as awe-inspiring, Dinoteks are life sized animals and metal machines combined. Marlin is befriended by them and they and together they have exciting adventures. In this story, they must escape from hunting humans who believe these animals are a menace to be destroyed. SF and dinosaurs - what a great way to encourage reading, especially for boys. Imaginative and full of action, and with illustrations to make it all come alive.

Secrets and Spies: Magic Trix 5 by Sara Grant

A magical series for girls age 7 to 9. Trix' magic powers are growing - she must use her witch powers to grant a wish for a grumpy new girl. But Trix, like many other young girls who will love the storyline, has a pesky little brother - Oscar. He thinks Trix is up to something and wants to uncover her secret. With Oscar spying on her every move, how can Trix work her magic? A light-hearted and enjoyable read, well illustrated.

Talent Show Trouble (Perfectly Poppy) by Michele Jakubowski

Poppy and her best friend, Millie, decide to organize an active talent show for their neighbourhood. Trouble is, as the talent show gets closer, Poppy realizes she doesn't actually have a talent! But then she remembers, and after some practice she's ready to go! A short book and attractively presented book for beginner readers with plenty of pictures to help the transition from picture books. The book includes a tasty recipe and some ideas to encourage physical activities.

Choosing Crumble by Michael Rosen

We've all had that feeling, haven't we? Going to choose a dog and feeling that the dog has chosen you! When Terri-Lee goes to the pet-shop she finds Crumble is no ordinary pet and he's got a few questions to ask: How many walks will you take me on? Do you like to dance? Will you tickle me? Luckily, Terri-Lee has all the right answers and is chosen for the job in this enjoyable amusing read. The illustrations by (of course!) Tony Ross bring an additional touch of humour to the story and I love the way he depicts Crumble.

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

A young couple wakes up to find a strange boy asleep on their porch. At first they don't expect him to stay, but stay he does, and as the couple's connection to him grows, the three of them blossom into an unlikely family. But where has he come from and to whom does he belong? A compelling story which highlights the importance of families; the suspense that lies in wait as we discover Jacob's origins keeps the reader gripped. An emotional short read.

Eliza Boom's Diary: My Explosive Adventure by Emily Gale

A feisty new heroine for younger readers in her first outing. Eliza is an inventor - but not a very successful one, yet. Eliza and her best friend Einstein the dog, are on a mission to catch a spy and vanquish the class bully at the same time. Told as much through the hilarious cartoons as through the text, this is an engaging story that will have children chuckling. The diary format is always an appealing one for this age group and has given rise to many successful series - Eliza Boom looks set to become another.

Eliza Boom's Diary: My Fizz-tastic Investigation by Emily Gale

Eliza's second diary is released along with the first so young readers can really get to know this new character. Einstein the dog falls in love with the next-door neighbour's pooch, Nancy but Eliza soon finds this tale of puppy love isn't all it seems. Just who is Mary Spoon and why is she spying on the Boom family from her mysterious, humming, 'fizz-buzzing' house? Eliza's inventing skills aren't yet perfected so what mayhem will result this time? Whatever it is, readers are guaranteed a hilarious read. Eliza has her own website -

The Catacombs of Vanaheim by Richard Denning

The sequel to The Shield Maiden brings us another historical adventure intermingled with fantasy. The Bifrost - the passageway between the Nine Worlds - opening Anna's village to attack. It is up to Anna and her companions to travel to Vanaheim, home to the gods of wisdom and magic. There the young sorcerer, Wilburh, hopes to obtain a way to protect their village. But Wilburh's magic is waning and the gods themselves are prisoners. Forced to enter the Catacombs to save them, Anna and her friends find themselves tested to the limit. Authentic historical backgrounds combine with the fantasy element to enthrall the reader.

Frankie's Magic Football: Frankie vs The Mummy's Menace by Frank Lampard

The fourth story about Frankie and his magic football - this time, they find themselves in Ancient Egypt. Their opponents are the menacing mummies - a scary proposition! A great story for boys and girls - combining the popular interests of football and Ancient Egypt is bound to produce a winner. The books are enjoyable reads, not too taxing for the reluctant reader and a good way to foster a love for reading.

The Impossible Boy by Mark Griffiths

A mystery adventure which will appeal particularly to boys. There are strange goings-on in Blue Hills - inanimate objects are coming to life; time travellers from the future are in town and children are developing uncanny powers. Not just Blue Hills is in danger - this could go global. Fortunately, help with these extraordinary phenomena is at hand in the form of Gabby Grayling and Barney Watkins aka Geek Inc.! Gabby and Barney are set to investigate all the odd happenings in their town and find out the truth…

A Book is a Book by Jenny Bornholdt

A book foe every book-lover, this book asks ‘what is a book?' and celebrates books and reading. It is told from a child's perspective but it captures the value and magic of books felt by all voracious readers. A small but perfect book, it is beautifully produced with enchanting drawings that encourage the reader to think of all the good things about books. The magic of books encapsulated in one small volume.

Dappled Annie and the Tigrish by Mary McCallum

There are faces in the hedge at the end of the garden, and a nest of tiny fantails, and that's where 9 year-old Annie goes to play one hot summer while her father works up at the lighthouse. One after another, an earthquake and a terrible wind leave Annie with losses that seem irreplaceable, and her little brother Robbie emerges as the only person who can help her find what she's lost.

Dunger by Joy Cowley

When William and Melissa are told that they must spend their holiday with their grandparents, they are far from pleased. But when they are offered money - a lot of money - to go, they change their minds! However, they get more than they bargained for and things look grim - until William is shown Dunger, his Grandpa's car. Vividly told with good characterisation, the story shows us the ultimate importance of families.

Monkey Madness: The Only Way Is Africa! by Anna Wilson

Animal stories are perennially appealing to children and sometimes it can be hard to find something that is a little different. Monkey Madness succeeds, with its African setting which sees Felix setting off on safari. Felix, however, has a seemingly impossible challenge - to win back Flo's friendship, he must take a baby monley home for her. There's plenty of humour in this enjoyable story. I love the line drawings which really capture the spirit of the book - encourage your child to spot the different creatures and to talk about what the pictures show of African life.

The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray

Magic meets time-slip in this engrossing adventure. Lucy passes through a painting in her aunt's house and on the other side she meets three children. Together, they fight fires, battle floodwaters and discover the meaning of true friendship. But who are April, Tom and Jimmy Tiger, and what magic has drawn Lucy to them? An imaginative story, beautifully written, which takes the reader into another world and draws you into the mystery and magic.

Room for a Stranger (Pigeon Summer) by Ann Turnbull

An evocative cover sets the scene for this story, the concluding book in the Pigeon Summer trilogy. Doreen finally gets a room of her own - but it doesn't last as her mum takes in an evacuee. Rhoda Kelly is a year older than Doreen; full of confidence; already has a boyfriend and is a talented singer. The story relates the problems these two disparate girls have in getting on together - problems that lead to bitter conflict and danger. Somehow though, there is an inevitability about the way things work out. A sensitively written story with an authentic historical background showing the problems of adapting and accepting.

A Room Full of Chocolate by Jane Elson

When I read the blurb for this book, I knew it would be a very special story. It's full of emotion and shows just how important friendship and family are, especially when life gets tough. Grace's life is packed full of the things girls enjoy - until the dread day when her adored mum finds a lump. When mum goes into hospital, Grace is sent away to her grumpy Granddad. And there's worse to face when she starts a new school. Help is at hand though, with new best friend Megan, who seems to make everything better. Together, they come up with a plan so that Grace can visit her mum at Easter - it's a risky plan and it gets the girls into plenty of trouble... but is it worth it all? A beautifully written book with real insight - insight gained by the author herself, who had a similar experience at the age of just 6. A book to ponder over; a book with a positive message; a book which shows people aren't always what they seem.

More Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron

Julian is a great storyteller! Did you know that frogs wear shoes? That eating broccoli makes you super strong? Or that you can even move the sun if you put your mind to it? Believe them or not, these short stories are perfect for newly confident readers with amusing storylines and complementary drawings. Imaginative mischevious Julian is a fun character and boys especially will enjoy reading about him.

The Legend of Frog by Guy Bass

Fairy tale, fantasy or science fiction? It's a bit of each and in addition it's a very funny tale. Frog has big ideas but his world is very limited - there's just him and Buttercup. Sure n the knowledge he is destined for greater things, Frog sets off to claim his kingdom - but finds the throne already has an occupant - a princess. And then he discovers he is actually the prince of an invading alien army and that he's just given the go-ahead for an all-out alien invasion. It's up to him and the princess to decide how to act. Children will enjoy the zany writing style from an already very popular author. Find out more at

Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers by John Dougherty

Children love silly stories and this is about as silly as they come! The Isle of Kerfuffle is an odd place inhabited by a cast of quirky and amusing characters who are brought to life in the entertaining text. Are the BADgers responsible for the problems on the island? You never know what is going to happen next... Even reluctant readers will be drawn in by the amusing pictures and the good use of varied font styles which makes the book appealing and not in the least daunting. Great fun, especially when read aloud.

Lost... In the Jungle of Doom by Tracey Turner

Deep in the Amazon Rainforest, danger lurks round every corner. Will you survive ferocious jaguars, terrifying black caiman and deadly dehydration? More than jist a story, this book along with the other in the series, is packed full of fascinating facts and essential information to get you to safety. Lost in… is an amazing new interactive, adventure-packed series in which the reader must choose their own path to survive to the end of the story. Can you get out alive? It's a great format to get children throroughly immersed in a book and perfect to encourage reluctant boy readers

Lost... In the Desert of Dread by Tracey Turner

Can you escape from this seemingly impossible situation? You are deep in the Desert of Dread where danger lurks round every corner. Will you survive poisonous stings, terrifying storms and deadly dehydration? It's up to you to make good use of the information on avoiding dangers that this book gives you, so you can make the right decisions and survive. The books are linked to the geography curriculum and provide plenty of interesting and relevant background information so are perfect for reluctant learners. The format is appealing and all-in-all it's a super series.

Airlock (Black Cats) by Simon Cheshire

An amazing prize turns into a terrifying nightmare in this space story. George and his friends have won an incredible prize, the chance to visit the Berners-Lee space station for a special overnight school trip. But sabotage on board the space ship leaves most of the crew dead and very little oxygen left for those remaining. Worst - it seems the saboteur is still on board. Can George and his friends stop the saboteur, save the space station, and survive? A pacy and engrossing story ideal for newly confident readers.

The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry

Molly, Karl and Nick are The Odd Squad who star in this laugh-aloud story that will appeal especially to boys of 9+. Nick is stuffed in his locker. Again. It's not so bad. Lockers are roomier than you'd think. Especially when you're the shortest kid on the planet, which is exactly why Bully-Boy Roy stuffed him in there in the first place: he fits. The school counselor says Roy has issues. The only issue Nick can see is that Roy is a mutant troll. Nick's friends Molly and Karl think the troll needs to be defeated. As well as the quirky and amusing text, there are cartoons galore which make this a really enticing and enjoyable read. A fun read with an underlying serious message.

Bumper Book of Humphrey's Tiny Tales by Betty G. Birney

A real treat for younger fans of the friendly classroom hamster. The book includes My Pet Show Panic!, My Summer Fair Surprise! and My Creepy-Crawly Camping Adventure! Plus there's a brand-new story My Mixed-Up Magic Trick! It's Careers Day in Room 26 and it's up to Humphrey to help Golden-Miranda show everyone that girls can be magicians. These Humphrey stories are perfect for younger readers with their short chapters and plenty of illustrations - a good way for new readers to develop confidence.

Kingdom of Silk: Perry Angel's Suitcase by Glenda Millard

I loved Layla, Queen of Hearts which preceded this and I was happy to see that the gentle thoughtfulness in continued in the storyline. Perry Angel is a foster child who has arrived in the Kingdom of Silk on the ten-thirty express with just a small suitcase embossed with five golden letters. After many unsettled years, Perry finds it hard to settle but the loving Silk family have a place for him. Finally, Perry learns to trust and we learn a special reason why the Silk family embraced Perry into their midst. A thoughtful story told through the eyes of each of the main protagonists, which shows us that we all have our own place in the world; it is delicately illustrated with dreamy drawings that reflect the underlying theme.

Mysterium: 2: The Palace of Memory by Julian Sedgwick

The circus is in Danny's blood and when he discovers the Mysterium (the circus into which he was born) is being reformed, he knows he must be part of it, despite the fact it caused his parents' death. It is those deaths that leads to strange happenings in the circus - happenings that Danny is determined to unravel. Not everyone on the circus is to be trusted and Danny must continue his quest to find his parents' killers. Once again, the story culminates in Danny's participation in a well-known and dangerous stunt. An exciting page-turner full of magic and mystery, with a well-depicted and engrossing circus background.

Biggles Learns to Fly by W E Johns

Yes, of course the stories are in some ways dated but the authentic background  ensures they are still rattling good yarns, especially for boys. This is the story of the very beginning, of the Air Force and of the early career of Squadron Leader James Bigglesworth, best known as Biggles. It's the First World War and Biggles is just 17. Obviously reprinted to coincide with the centenary of the outbreak of war, reading about Biggles and his exploits will bring a vivid evocation of the war. The planes are primitive; combat tactics are non-existent; the only form of communication for pilots and their gunners is by hand signals. They are reliant on the skill of their fellow crew, their wit and, above all else, bravery. In hostile enemy skies, where instinct and fast reactions are everything, Biggles must learn to be a real fighter pilot, or die.but does he have what it takes? The excitement is as stromg as ever and I do hope boys will be encouraged to read these books.

Biggles Flies East by W E Johns

When Biggles is mistaken for someone else and headquarters find out about it,  they ask him to take the place of his double and work for the Germans as a spy, while secretly reporting back to the British. A risky mission but Biggles is nothing if not dutiful and patriotic so he accepts the commission even though his life will be at risk. The book takes Biggles away from his air adventures which are the focus of his other books and gives an interesting new perspective and background in this exciting and tense book. W E Johns was a Captain in the RAF so he knows what he is talking about and these books are a great nostalgic read - I suspect many adults will also be re-reading them. Great new covers too!

How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

Trying to encourage boys to read? You won't go far wrong with this hilarious story about Billy who must eat 15 worms in as many days if he's not to lose his bet - and face - with friends Alan and Joe. Will he eat them fried, boiled, with ketchup... or will his friends' increasingly ingenious plans to put him off succeed? It's really well written with the boys' characters hitting just the right note.It's a fun and lively read - and there's an underlying message about peer pressure and standing out against it.

The Queen of Dreams by Peter Hamilton

Taggie and Jemima's summer holiday turns into something very unexpected in this gripping fantasy tale. A squirrel that not only speaks but wears glasses? And that's only the start of their fantastical adventures as they set out to rescue their father from the King of Night? Far from being from an ordinary family, Taggie and Jemima find they have magical powers - and they meet up with many more magical creatures on their quest. The rather scary cover belies the age group for whom this book is intended, making it look like a book for 11+, whereas I think children of 8+ will enjoy the story, so don't be put off. It's a compelling read, with cleverly drawn characters who are believable despite the magic. A good start to the trilogy.

Claude on the Slopes by Alex T Smith

This time, Claude appears in a lovely hardback edition, making the book more of a treat than ever - there's something curiously satisfying about these chunky little books. Claude is one very special dog, who has a very special life - and a special friend Sir Bobblysock. This time, he's having fun in the snow. Surely, just making snowmen, sledging and throwing snowballs can't lead to trouble? Well, if you're a fan of Claude's previous escapades, you'll know anything can lead to trouble - even, in Claude's case, a very loud voice! The stories are great bedtime reads and are also perfect for children just making that transition from picture books to chapter books - the juxtaposition of words and text is very clever. Claude is such fun and so charismatic - I love him!

Dork Diaries: Holiday Heartbreak by Rachel Renee Russell

This has become a hugely popular series for tweens, who love the quirky format - part diary, part notebook, which makes the books eminently readable. It's the biggest dance of the year and Nikki Maxwell is hoping her crush, Brandon, wants to be her date. But time is running out. What if he doesn't want to go with her? Or worse - what if he ends up going with Mackenzie?!! The story flows well, which isn't always the case with a diary style, and girls will find this a thoroughly enjoyable read with some great characters with whom they can really engage. is the place to go to find out more about this engaging series.

Baby Aliens Got My Teacher by Pamela Butchart

It's a rambling and hilarious start as Izzy tries to tell her mum something and you really want to find out... What's happened? Miss Jones is actually being nice to her class - most out of character! Has Miss Jones gone bonkers or is she an alien? I'm not telling you because you'll miss out if you don't read this fantastic story from Nosy Crow with its amusing illustrations by Thomas Flintham. An imaginative book with super characters. This would make a super end-of-the-day class read to send children home in good humour and with a very positive view of school and teachers! Publication date 9 January 2014.

The Order of the Owls (Minerva Mint) by Elisa Puricelli Guerra

No one knows for sure where Minerva Mint came from. She just appeared in a London train station one day a baby in a bag. Since then she's been living with Mrs. Flopps, the woman who found her, in a rundown mansion called Lizard Manor. It's been nine years now, and Minerva is no closer to finding her parents. Fortunately, her two new friends, Thomasina and Ravi, have turned the mystery of finding her identity into a wonderful adventure. I love the illustrations - just a little bit creepy and a little bit strange!

The Thirteenth Mystery (Hocus Pocus Hotel) by Michael Dahl

A hotel built by a magician and home to magicians - just imagine the wonderful opportunities for great stories about mysterious events. Ghosts wandering the halls, a magician who vanishes into thin air – two contrasting kids put their wits tog ether to solve the mysteries - Ty the school bully and geekish Charlie Hitchcock, with his photographic memory. Together, they’ll solve magical mysteries beyond your wildest imagination. Unusually for a fiction book at this level there are colour illustrations which add to the appeal - and the mystery. A light- easy to read mystery for upper KS2 - and there are lots more in the series.

Dolphin Splashdown (WWF Wild Friends) by Linda Chapman and Michelle Misra

Emily is one very lucky girl - her parents travel the world helping endangered species. Emily is enjoying a summer holiday in Florida (and the dolphins, of course) when her mum gets an urgent call from the WWF and they're off to Mexico. Emily meets a new wild friend - baby dolphin Coral - and Coral needs Emily's help. These are enjoyable stories for young readers and the unusual settings make for added interest. On a serious note, the series raises awareness of the vital work of the WWF, and this book includes fun games and puzzles, plus facts about dolphins and their habitat, this raising awareness and knowledge.

Mission Survival: Strike of the Shark by Bear Grylls

Number Six in a terrific action-packed series that is perfect for boys who may have thought books are boring. When Beck Granger is ship-wrecked in the open seas, he needs all of his survival skills to save a small group of passengers. And survival skills are what Bear Grylls knows all about so as well as an exciting adventure, you can be sure that there's a solid base of truth. The sinking was no accident so before Beck can ensure his survival he needs to identify the enemy. In order to stay alive, he'll have to work out who wants him dead, and why. But the sharks are circling, the ship is sinking fast... time is short.

Queenie by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson never disappoints and this book is a fascinating portrayal of life in 1953 - the year of the Coronation. Elsie Kettle can't wait to go to London to join in with the celebrations - but before she can, both she and her Nan, with whom she lives, are struck with TB - a terrifying disease in those days and one which meant months in hospital. And not just hospital, but a rigid and unbending routine which Elsie finds almost impossible. But she's a feisty character and she finds herself surrounded by friends when she finds ways of entertaining the other children on the ward. And these friends include a very special one - Queenie, the hospital's beautiful white cat. And there's a very unexpected surprise before she leaves hospital... A moving, often sad, and very emotional story with a lovable heroine.

Braving the Storm: A Tale of Courage, Friendship and Survival by Dr I M A Littlemouse

The teller of this story (who may have had a little help from Julie Kuordi) is no ordinary mouse - he is a well-travelled, friendly and above all curious mouse. The story starts on a stormy night in Claybottom Farmhouse when Tap the sheepdog pup is abandoned. She meets lots of woodland friends who have no food and no homes and a strong friendship is born. But will it last and will Tap ever find her way home? The first thing that struck me when I started this book was the wonderful use of descriptive language - an inspiration to all aspiring writers. Immediately, you are drawn into the story and you just have to read on to find Tap's fate. The characters are vividly depicted - some you'll like and some you'll detest! I like the short verses that head each chapter - these give a good change in pace and work well when reading the story aloud. It's engagingly written and will stimulate a love for stories.

Puddles: a week is a long time in doggy years by Dr I M A Littlemouse

When Puddles woke up on a snowy day, she thought of nothing but how much fun lay ahead. And she was right – it had been a lovely day... but then the gate opened and Puddles’ life changed forever. The feisty dog meets with all sorts of adventures and makes many new friends but the ending is unexpected and moving. Again, we meet a wonderful cast of amazing animals, each with its own very definite character. Both books feature an enchanting glossary of made-up words at the end - wonderfully inventive, here is a great idea to use in an English lesson.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney

This is the eighth in this hilarious and hugely popular series and, yet again, does not disappoint - in fact, I found it funnier than ever and that's quite something! Friendship is always a problem and especially for the years around early teens - and Greg Heffley is no exception. He just can't make new friends, so decides to leave it to chance. Is this a good move or a risky throw of the dice? Jeff Kinney has such a gift for portraying his characters, knows exactly how boys feel and boys cannot fail to enjoy this latest episode in the life of Greg Heffley - it's a lively read with lots of cartoons which is great for reluctant readers.

The Worst Witch and The Wishing Star by Jill Murphy

It's been a long wait for a new Worst Witch book, but well worth it! Alongside this new title, Puffin are re-launching the six previous stories. Poor Mildred - she has always been the worst witch at Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches. But she is also a wonderful friend and fans of the series will be delighted to welcome her back along with her friends. Just for once, Mildred's wish has come true and she is now the proud owner of a dog, Star - but she must keep him a secret. A thoroughly entertaining read which also includes some highly amusing illustrations. The characters have developed in this book - Mildred is (a little) more mature and even Miss Hardbroom seems to have a softer side.

Waffle Hearts by Maria Parr

Trille and Lena are neighbours and best friends and they have plenty of adventures together - Lena is always the first to try new things. They live in the village of Mathildewick Cove in Norway and this is the story of a fun-filled summer. Enjoy sharing with them as they re-enact the story of Noah’s Ark, enjoy summer celebrations and even advertise for a new dad for Lena. Family and friendship are the key to this charming story which has a nicely traditional feel. There's humour and there's sadness and there's a little about Norwegian culture - altogether, they make a brilliant book; it's beautifully produced too.

Pollyanna (Unabridged Classics) by Eleanor H. Porter

We've all heard of Pollyanna - or at least of the name Pollyanna being used for someone who shares her optimistic outlook on life. When her father dies, Pollyanna has to go to live with her Aunt Polly. But even her Aunt's unfriendliness doesn't get Pollyanna down - whatever happens, she always finds something to be glad about.Everyone who comes into contact with Pollyanna finds her optimistic outlook affects them - it's a wonderful account of the effect anyone can have on the people around them. But when a horrible accident leaves her crippled, will Pollyanna still be so glad? A classic story which is still relevant today. This attractive edition, in hardcover is published October 13 by Sterling, 978 1402797187.

The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp

When Pig finds a pen and a diary, he sets out to write his diary - but you need to be able to read Pig to understand it! Pig has some bad news - he learns that the Evil Chickens want to send him into space; and then, that, far from loving him, Farmer wants to eat him! At first sight, it looks like a book for newly confident readers, with lots of illustrations, short chapters and child-like font - but don't be fooled; it will have all ages clamouring to read it! Certainly far from conventional, with its quirky take on grammar, it's emphasis on farts and it's unusual layout.

Archie and Archie by Ruth Rendell

Her story-telling is as engrossing as ever, as Ruth Rendell turns her talents to writing for children. Archie the cat and Archie the dog live next door to each other - and they are just two of the lovely animal characters who live on the same street. Read about their adventures - including Archie the cat spending a scary night trapped in a neighbour's attic - in this gentle, delightful book for younger readers. Madeleine Floyd's line drawings of the animals are delicate and help us get to know the animals.

Gargoyles Gone AWOL (Sesame Seade Mysteries) by Clementine Beauvais

Sesame Seade, the sleuth on roller skates is back for her second puzzling adventure. After an unfortunate encounter with Mr Halitosis, the unpopular teacher, Sesame is pleased to be off on the trail of a mysterious disappearance at Gonville and Caius... Sesame takes to the rooftops in search of the disappearing gargoyles. She's a wonderful heroine and the writing is fast-paced and full of well-depicted characters - some you'll like, some you will hate! It's great fun!

The Day the Donkey Dropped Dead (Screaming Sands) by Sam Hay

Middle Spit Sands is a resort going downhill - will the death of Doris the donkey be the last straw? But Davie and Ruby have got an idea and place an advert in the mysterious Darkington Times. Soon there are some unusual guests arriving in the Screaming Sands is heaving with ghouls, vampires and witches of every variety and businesses are booming. But this surprising success hasn't gone unnoticed and a TV new crew are on their way to investigate. Will the intrusion from the outside world scare off the town's spooky guests?

The Chronicles Of Narmo by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran's debut novel shows just why she has gone on to be a top-class author. It's witty and believable with some excellently drawn characters. Fifteen-year-old Morag Narmo and her siblings really doesn't want to go to school any more but they are all stunned when their parents whisk them out of school and embark on a home-schooling experiment. But with five children, two unruly pets and some extremely eccentric attitudes, the educational experiment soon descends into chaos...

Get Fit with Nelson by Simon Weston

Yes - THE Simon Weston, who has now written four books about Nelson the carthorse from the St Mary Dairy. Nelson and his friends are keen to get fit so go into training. 'Help!' Oh dear! It's Rhodri, one of the overfed rats at the St Mary Dairy in Pont-y-cary,and he's stuck up a drainpipe. Rhodri's not the only one who's been packing on the pounds. Nelson, always a 'well-built' carthorse, has also recently moved into the XXXXXXXXXXXXL league! But he's got a date with Brecon, the lovely presenter at Hoarse-FM, to lead out the Welsh team at the Millennium Stadium. It's time to get fit! An enjoyable story with plenty of humorous touches and with an important message.

The World of Norm: 5: May Be Contagious by Jonathan Meres

The most unfairly treated boy in the whole world is back for his fifth hilarious adventure. But could it be that his bad luck is contagious? The day starts badly when Norm slips over in something unmentionable - then he can't go biking - then he has to (horror!) tidy his room. And things just go from bad to worse. The books are spot-on for boys of 9+, who will love Norm and his antics and the cartoon-type drawings and well split-up text with plenty of dialogue make for an easy read.

Hubble Bubble: The Glorious Granny Bake Off by Tracey Corderoy

Pandora loves her granny, even though she is a witch and some very strange things happen when she is around. Three magical stories - in The Spooks of Creakington Hall, Granny decides to liven up a rather boring tour; she brings comic chaos to a televised bake-off in The Glorious Granny Bake-Off; and in Alakazoom The Big Bunny Zoom Granny has her own hilarious way of winning the gardening competition. But in the end, everything turns out right - with a bit of help from Pandora.

Zoe's Rescue Zoo: The Playful Panda by Amelia Cobb

This is the third in a very enjoyable series for young readers. Zoe comes from an animal-loving family - Great-Uncle Horace brings back lost and homeless animals from his travels around the globe, and Zoe's mum, the zoo vet looks after them - with Zoe's help, of course! And the reason? Zoe has a very special secret - she can understand what they say and talk to them, too. Panda twins have arrived at the zoo and they are identical - except one is REALLY naughty. This is an engaging series, an enjoyable read and with an excellent cast, both animal and human. Sophy Williams' drawings help readers visualise the stories.

The Iron Man (Faber Classics) by Ted Hughes

The classic story of The Iron Man who is destroying the world with his insatiable desire for metal yet who, when danger from space threatens, saves the world needs little introduction. A compelling story, with descriptive and poetical language, in five parts, each one just right for a classroom story or a bedtime read. This paperback gift edition with its gold-embellished cover and remarkable wood engravings by Andrew Davidson is an edition to treasure.

The Windvale Sprites by Mackenzie Crook

Do fairies really exist? This is Mackenzie Crook's first novel and it begins on a day when a certain Mr Fish promised there would not be a hurricane - but which was followed by a night which will not be easily forgotten by those of us who lived through it. Among the consequences with which we are familiar (but which are very hunorously depicted) was a more unusual one. Who is the little winged creature? Asa is determined to find out, in a quest that takes him back 200 years. This is s quirky, humorous and gentle tale which entrances the reader right from the start. It has been reissued to coincide with the publication of The Lost Journals of Benjamin Tooth

Humphrey's Ho-Ho-Ho Book of Stories by Betty G. Birney

Here's a real treat for all fans of the much-loved classroom hamster. Humphrey has a lovely way of engaging with the reader and these three stories show that perfectly - School According to Humphrey; Mysteries According to Humphrey and Christmas According to Humphrey. Humphrey has such a humorous voice and an excellent take on the minutiae of everyday life. A perfect bumper book for snuggling up with on chilly winter evenings with guaranteed amusement. There's lots more fun to be had at

Space Pirates: Stranded by Jim Ladd

These are not pirates of the High Seas - these are pirates of space, aboard the Jolly Apollo. Sam and companions are still searching for Planet X, where they hope to find Sam's parents plus treasure. But, in the tradition of all the best pirate stories, the dastardly Black-Hole Beard is after them. In their efforts to hide, the crew find themselves stranded in the scariest, most deadly nebula in the universe. A pacy and hilarious read with plenty of snappy dialogue and gags galore, this will be enjoyed by both girls and boys.!

Tales from Lovecraft Middle School 4: Substitute Creature Charles Gilman

The lenticular covers on this series really set the scene for the books with their uncanny changing faces. The inventive storylines and strong characters from the first three in the series are continued in another mysterious and action-packed story. Robert Arthur and his friends are trapped in Lovecraft Middle School during a blizzard. But, as ever with this series, things are not what they seem - who is the mysterious teacher? Creepy and with plenty of suspense this can be read as a stand-alone but is even better as part of the series.

Magic Marks the Spot: Volume 1 (Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates) Caroline Carlson

This is a superb adventure story with a strong and adventurous heroine - a really good read. Hilary is no ordinary girl and certainly does not want to be at Miss Pimm's Finishing School for Delicate Ladies. Our determined heroine applies for a job with the Terror of the Southlands and he gives her the job on one condition - she must find a famous treasure. Hilary soon finds herself caught up in a dangerous quest, and on the run from her school governess and the most villainous pirate on the high seas! Letters and documents are interwoven with the story - a device that can often halt the narrative flow but so well done here that they fit seamlessly and enhance the storytelling. Preconceived character perceptions are turned on their heads in this exciting and humorous story.

Monsters, Mayhem and a Sprinkling of Crumbs! by Tracey Corderoy

The hilarious and somewhat unusual Crumb family are back with another helping of fun, mystery and humour. Ruthless criminal gang The Unstoppables are determined to get their mastermind scrapbook back from the Crumb family and they even follow the family to Scotland. For their cover, the gang must take part in the local highland games whilst the children try to keep the scrapbook hidden. But it turns out they're not the only ones with a secret - the local villagers have a cunning plan, too... Well drawn characters and a pacy plot will capture the reader's attention - it's fun to read aloud and it would be a good book to share with a class. Plenty of illustrations, by Ali Pye, add to the readability of the book and children will enjoy the way they add to the humour.

The Huge Hair Scare: Mariella Mystery 3 by Kate Pankhurst

Meet nine year old Mariella Mystery, girl detective - no mystery is too challenging for Mariella. It's the week before Hallowe'en and Puddleford is in the grip of fog - fog which gives people extreme bad hair days - extreme frizziness, wild, uncontrollable volume and shocking colour transformations. It's up to the Mystery Girls to find out what's going on. A fun take on the detective story genre, packed with quirky illustrations and full of fun. And there are plenty of tips for aspiring detectives too. It's such fun with the quirky and lively layout, delightful heroine and entertaining storyline. Unusual and different and bound to be very popular.

Sam Silver Undercover Pirate 9: The Sea Monster by Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler

Another action-packed adventure to enthrall young readers aged 7 - 9, girls and boys. The Sea Wolf pirates are looking - as all good pirates do - for treasure ships and they encounter a tattered galleon adrift on the Caribbean Sea. When they board, they find only one crew member left - and he explains that his ship was attacked by a giant, tentacle-ridden sea monster! When the monster suddenly appears and attacks the Sea Wolf, Sam and Fernando are swept overboard! Can they escape and defeat this new threat or are they destined to become fish food?

Dark Tide (The Hex Factor) by Harriet Goodwin

For those young readers who want a book that sends shivers down their spines, this absorbing story of evil and witches will satisfy them. Xanthe Fox has survived her first test as a teenage True Witch, and defeated her Hexing Witch enemy Donna - for now. Desperate to learn all she can from Grandma Alice, she spends all her free time at her house, much to the grief of Saul, who's finally plucked up the courage to ask her out. Soon Xanthe is seeing bright, glowing Xs, which are getting more powerful by the day. Convinced that a bigger hex than ever is being sparked, Xanthe knows that she must act - with or without the help of the other True Witches...

On Planet Fruitcake by Anne Fine

Philip is quiet in class but he has an incredible imagination, and one day in class he imagines he is on Planet Fruitcake where everything is different and he has the confidence to speak out... Purple cows . . . brains in pots . . . a clever and beautiful chicken . . . What will they think of next - it's enough for even calm Miss dove to lose her temper - to the benefit of all the class!!! Anne Fine has a wonderful grasp of the way children feel and think and this draws the young reader into her books as they realise that here is an author who really understands them.

St Clare's: The First Years by Enid Blyton

Perhaps slightly less well known than her Malory Towers books, the St Clare's series nonetheless has all the trademarks of Enid Blyton's school stories that have delighted generations. The adventures of twins Pat and Isabel O'Sullivan during their first three (very busy!) terms at St Clare's. They were not looking forward to going there at all and things get off to a bad start... Of course, they are won over by the school, the girls and the staff and enjoy all the ingredients of the boarding school story - there's Mam'zelle to tease, midnight feasts to enjoy, tricks to play and, of course, plenty of friendships. A bumper volume of three stories to keep girls happy for quite a while!

St Clare's: The Middle Years by Enid Blyton

A compilation of three stories - Second Form at St. Clare's by Enid herself and Third Form at St. Clare's plus Kitty at St. Clare's which are written by Pamela Cox. If someone had told me they were all by Enid Blyton, I would have believed them, so seamless is the transition between authors. Once again, the stories follow the adventures of the O'Sullivan twins and all the traditional boarding school fun that has had generations of girls wishing they could go to boarding school! Of course, the stories are dated in many aspects but that doesn't stop them being jolly good fun.

The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford

The Wombles are as fresh and appealing as they were when the series first started with this title over 40 years ago, and their recycling message is even more important in today's world than it was then.This is a lovely gift edition, generously sized and with illustrations by Nick Price; it also includes an audio CD read by 'the voice of the Wombles' Bernard Cribbins whose reading really does enhance the stories. Meet Great Uncle Bulgaria, Bungo, Tobermory and many other favourites and enjoy the adventures of these lovable and endlessly imaginative characters - adults who enjoyed the stories as children will love to share them with their own children. With their return to TV scheduled for 2015, there is bound to be an upsurge in interest so make sure you get your copy of this book!

Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights by Kate Scott

Joe's parents are spies - that's no problem, but when he has to go undercover wearing a dress, now that is a problem! Understandably, Joe is very unhappy when he has to start his new school as Josephine, wearing a blond wig, dress and tights. But soon enough, Joe gets embroiled in a mission of his own... It's funny, it has just the right amount of tension and it's brilliant to read aloud - try it with a class (boys and girls) and there will be great hilarity. There is a quiet moral - don't tell lies - but it's subtle. A really good read and great to know that 'Boy in a Tutu' is coming soon.

The Woebegone Twins (Tales from Schwartzgarten) by Christopher William Hill

A grimly dark tale set in the city of Schwartzgarten; sequel to Osbert the Avenger. Twins Greta and Feliks are sent to the ill-omened Schwartzgarten Reformatory for Maladjusted Children when their aunt dies - from eating poisoned marzipan cake! Are things looking up when they are rescued by the glamorous and wealthy Olga Van Veenen, or does she have an ulterior motive? If you like your reading dark and gruesome, then this is the series for you!

Milo and One Dead Angry Druid (Milo Adventures) by Mary Arrigan

It wasn't any old stone that Shane's Gran dug up - it was a very special ancient stone, once owned by a Druid, who is very angry that his stone has been found. Dramatic events take place - Willie Jones' lizard goes mental and then Shane disappears. Milo has until midnight to come up with a rescue plan.

The Reindeer Girl by Holly Webb

A wintery story about a very special friendship; a book with a lovely cover image. Lotta is visiting her grandmother in Norway at Christmas and finds herself enjoying a magical adventure, travelling by sledge and herding reindeer from the snowy mountains to the summer pastures. But when a mother reindeer is lost, Lotta must find her before her calf starves...Fans of Holly Webb's The Snow Bear will delight in this beautiful winter's tale set in snowy Norway. A charming story from a master teller of animal stories.

Dork Diaries OMG: All About Me Diary! by Rachel Renee Russell

This is a style of book which is currently, and well deservedly, very popular. Now young readers can create their very own version with this dorky diary to complete themselves. There are spaces for two years of entries so the writer can see how things change year on year. There's plenty of suggestions on what to write and these are a great way to encourage creative writing in a fun way - what dream do you have to make the world a better place; what's the nicest thing anyone has done to you lately? Illustrated throughout with amusing cartoons, this is an unusual but inspiring diary - a great gift.

The River Singers by Tom Moorhouse

First impressions count and the stunning cover of this book sets the scene perfectly. Their lives are under threat so Sylvan the water vole and his siblings must abandon their burrow. Join them on their exciting journey along the Great River in search of a safe haven. Inevitably, there will be comparisons with Wind in the Willows and readers will not be disappointed - they are in for a real treat with these lovable creatures who grow on you as the story unfolds; they are beautifully portrayed in lyrical language which warms the heart . Tender line drawings are the perfect complement to the text.

Julian, Secret Agent (Julian & Huey) by Ann Cameron

This is a fun and imaginative series which will be enjoyed by children who are ready to read longer books for themselves. Julian, Huey and Gloria think that adults aren't very good at solving crimes so they decide to take matters into their own hands, setting out on a mission to track down wanted criminals... trouble is, it's hard to find any criminals! The imaginative language is perfectly pitched for children, who will enjoy the images brought to mind by sentences such as 'Tt was a morning when the clouds had pillow fights.' Equally entertaining is Julian, Dream Doctor (Julian & Huey) which finds Julian and Huey on a hunt for the best present ever for their Dad. Another highly amusing and cleverly written tale.

Nina and the Kung-Fu Adventure by Madhvi Ramani

The second in the series finds likeable Nina off on another adventure - this time, she finds herself in China, with a little help from the magical spice shed, helping out her schoolfriend Lee. Lots of adventure involving a mysterious riddle, a kung-fu master and a special key. As well as an enjoyable story, children will enjoy the opportunity to learn about another culture, backed up by the section at the end of the book on chopstick etiquette, the Chinese Zodiac and facts about China.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home: Jazz and Bo's Story by Sarah Hawkins

A lovely series which helps to raise awareness of the plight of the many cats and dogs rescued by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home - a really important aspect. Harry and Abi can't agree on anything, not even the new family pet. Luckily, a trip to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home provides a surprising end to their argument. Jazz the black kitten and Bo the Boxer puppy were raised together and can't bear to be parted so both children get what they wanted. But there's trouble to come when Jazz goes missing! Another lesson here - owning pets brings responsibility. Lots of added information at the end of the book adds greatly to the book - and you are supporting the Home by buying the book.

From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos

When Jack dresses up as a notorious local murderer for Halloween, he thinks he's found the perfect costume to scare away evil spirits. But when the real murderer returns and another old lady dies, he starts to worry that he might not be showing the best judgment. Together with Miss Volker, the last remaining original Norvelter, Jack sets out on a road trip through the dark side of America's history to track down the killer once and for all. Will they save Norvelt? Or are they going nowhere?

The Starburster Stories by Berlie Doherty

Fans of Berlie Doherty's enchanting stories are in for a real treat with this compilation, as they join Tam on three exciting adventures in the land of Faery - where he'll battle castle nightmares, evil creatures and mischevious fairies! In The Starbuster, Tam finds that, after all, he does love his baby sister and when she is stolen he travels to the magical land of Faery to bring her back. It's Great-grandpa who vanishes in The Humming Machine and causes Tam's second visit to Faery Land. But he doesn't come back, and in The Windspinner Tam has a secret to keep - Great-grandpa is there as the king. These are fun stories with plenty of magical happenings to entrall young readers.

Diamond (Hetty Feather) by Jacqueline Wilson

Diamond was always a disappointment to her parents - they wanted a boy but they got dainty delicate Diamond. Diamond has a sensational gift for acrobatics and her father sells her to a stranger for five guineas, and she becomes an acrobat at Tanglefield's Travelling Circus. Here she meets an old favourite - Emerald Star, Tanglefield's brand-new ringmaster as well as making many other friends. As we know from Jacqueline's previous books, friendship is all-important and that shows strongly in this book. Diamond needs her friends as she is terrified to step into the ring as her master's demands become increasingly dangerous. When life at the circus becomes too dangerous to bear any longer, what will the future hold for Diamond? And will her Emerald be a part of it? Another superb read from the acclaimed story-teller.

The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman

First impressions are important and the busy cover of this book with its intricate pictures of all manner of inventions intrigued me from the start. Leo finds himself riding on riding on some kind of weird machine, with his arms wrapped around a stunning girl. He heads off to the fascinating New York Circulating Material Repository to do some research and meets Jaya, the girl from the future. Together they embark on a dangerous mission to save New York City . . . a mission that will take them to the other side of the world, travelling through time. The two likeable and talented young stars of the book are excellently portrayed in this intriguing novel based on artefacts from H G Wells novels.

Frankie's Magic Football: Frankie vs The Cowboy's Crew by Frank Lampard

A super way to get young readers interested in books and to whet their appetites for history as they join Frankie and his friends in a series of time-travelling adventures - the name Frank Lampard on the cover is bound to encourage young readers to pick up this book and they won't be disappointed. Frankie's magic football transports him and his friends through time to play against an exciting variety of teams - in the Wild West, Frankie's team will have to go head-to-head with some crabby cowboys. Will they be able to win the penalty shoot out at high noon? Short chapters, well spaced text and plenty of pictures showcasing the exciting story make this perfect for beginner readers.

Plague: A Cross on the Door (National Archives) by Ann Turnbull

What an excellent series! I am really keen on encouraging children to read novels set in the historical period they are studying - it's a super way to bring history alive and to give a real feel for the period. Sam has worked alongside his master, training to be a cobbler but as the frightening events unfurl, he finds himself locked in the house with his dying master. Can Sam escape, and if he does, what do the streets hold for him? I don't want to spoil the story, but there is an equally gripping sequel in The Great Fire: A City in Flames (National Archives). The books contain enough tension to grip the reader and keep the stories flowing and the atmosphere of Stuart London is excellently evoked. The books are published with the National Archives so teachers can be confident they are giving children authentic material.

Bring Out the Banners (Flashbacks) by Geoffrey Trease

The Suffragette Movement brought together women who would have been unlikely companions in earlier times - this is the story of an office worker and an aristocratic young lady who work together for women's right to vote. This thrilling story of secret meetings, police oppression and social upheaval gives children an excellent insight into what life was like as a Suffragette and will help their understanding of just what these women wnet through. Historically accurate and with good period detail, this is an account of the Suffragette movement in the years before the First World War. From a renowned writer of children's historical fiction, the book is republished to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the death of suffragette martyr Emily Davison.

My Brilliant Life And Other Disasters by Catherine Wilkins

A really funny read for girls (and boys) of 9+. Jessica and Natalie are best friends again, but things have changed a bit. Jessica's got new friends now and the comic that they've put together has just launched in school to great acclaim. Jess is really enjoying her new-found fame but she faces unwelcome competition from Scarlett, another aspiring cartoonist. And friendship needs working at and time too give and Nat's very busy ... It's funny but it's also very cleverly written with a real insight into friendship and hopes of tween girls.

Barmy Barney Barn Owl by Ann Jungman

This is a lovely story about a very special barn owl. Barn owls have lived in the barn at Hoden Farm for as long as anyone can remember but developers are threatening their habitat. When Barney realises what may happen to them, he decides to save the family home, with some help from Sally the farmer's daughter - clever little Barney learns to talk. But not all humans are friendly and soon Barney is kidnapped. Luckily, he's a clever little owl... A lovely story and one which carries an important message too. Hopefully, it will inspire children to find out more about these beautiful creatures.

Home Sweet Horror (Scary Tales 1) by James Preller

Scary but not too scary, this is the story of Liam and his family and their creepy old house in a strange new town. The house is trying to tell Liam something... Dad thinks Liam’s just missing his dead mother, but when Liam and his sister summon a terrifying spirit through the bathroom mirror, the battle with the house becomes a life-or-death situation. Can the kids persuade Dad to listen to them before it’s too late? Spooky illustrations and grey pages give the book just the right feel.

Astrosaurs Vs Cows In Action: The Dinosaur Moo-tants by Steve Cole

Silly? Yes. Fun? Definitely! Boys will love this. "Evil is afoot in the Jurassic Quadrant. Terrifying mutant dinosaurs threaten to wipe out humanity... dinosaurs with twitching claws, razor-sharp teeth and...deadly udders?! These aren't mutants - they're MOO-tants! This is a deadly mission for a new superteam - one which can travel across space AND time. Action, danger (and a few cups of tea) are in store when the ASTROSAURS meet the COWS IN ACTION! But will the new friends be able to defeat their biggest, scariest, dairyest enemy yet? Or will the moo-tants destroy TWO of the bravest crime-fighting teams the universe has ever seen?"

Arthur and the Ice Rink by Johanne Mercier

Seven year old Arthur frequently visits his grandparents at Picket Lake and always has exciting adventures. It looked as though his winter stay could be a bit boring but then Grandpa told him about the time he crossed Picket Lake and won a medal and that gives Arthur an idea... In Arthur and the Witch, our young hero upsets the witch of Picket Lake by picking blueberries. Perfect for new readers, these stories, narrated by Arthur himself, are perfectly pitched so young readers will readily identify with Arthur, a likeable character.

The War Game (World War I Tales) by Terry Deary

The author of the ever-popular Horrible Histories, among many other books, turns his attention to life during World War I in this new series. This, the first in the series, is set in 1914 when, instead of the war being over by Christmas as many had hoped, the troops find themselves playing an amazing game of football. This is the moving story of that emotional time when the opposing sides came together in a remarkable moment of unity which challenged perceptions and remained in people's minds long after the war was over. The Bomber Balloon (World War I Tales) is set in 1916 and is the story of a Zeppelin landing in Essex and the germans coming face-to-face with the people they have been targeting. These tales really bring alive the way ordinary people felt and reacted to the horrors of war and are an excellent way to help children understand what happened - as well as being a great read.

The Last Flight (World War I Tales) by Terry Deary

In The Last Flight, we have moved on to 1917 (I like the way the series takes the reader progressively through the War). Photographer Alfred Adams was an air observer in the War, taking pictures over enemy lines. He was shot down by the famous 'Red Baron' Manfred von Richthofen over France along with his pilot Donald Stewart on 5 April 1917. They landed across enemy lines and both survived as prisoners of war. The tale tells how Alfred ended up spending his 21st birthday in a German prisoner of war camp, where he was visited by the Red Baron himself. It's an interesting insight into both sides of the War and of course, is a well-written story. Moving on to 1918, we have The Pigeon Spy (World War I Tales) which gives us another fascinating insight into the lesser-known aspects of the War - this time, a homing pigeon charged with carrying a vital message. An excellent series.

The Adventures of Shola by Bernardo Atxaga

Shola is adorable! Torn between her love of comfort (and especially food) and her taste for adventure, she spends her time trying to decide between the two. Four wittily told stories introduce a very special little dog. In the first story, Shola is convinced she is a lion but when it comes to putting theory into practice, things seem different... The other three stories are equally amusing and well told with a gentle humour. The illustrations give the book a nice old-fashioned appeal and make it just that little bit different. A lovely book.

Dicing with Death (Black Cats) by Beth Chambers

Max used to be an ordinary boy... until he offered himself up to Death in the place of his little sister, and somehow ended up as Death's assistant! Life in the Underworld isn't all bad though, despite housekeeper Liah's abysmal cooking. Above ground, someone has worked out how to bring the dead back to life, with potentially universe-destroying consequences. Can Max and Liah stop the culprit in time? Or will Max get a lot more than he bargained for? The storyline is gripping and ideal to engage the young reader, with plenty of suspense and action, yet not daunting with shortish chapters. The Black Cats series are short, gripping stories for newly confident readers aged 8-12.

Amazing Esme and the Pirate Circus by Tamara Macfarlane

Uncle Mac sets sail with amazing Esme and her fearless cousins on a journey to hot and cold and distant lands - from Scotland to Siberia to Peru, in order to send the animals back to their homes. It's a voyage filled with excitement, danger and dastardly pirates trying to recapture the animals. This is the third of Tamara Macfarlane's Esme stories which are perfect for newly confident readers to read by themselves, or for parents and teachers to read aloud. Plenty of action and with lots of black and white drawings.

The Lost Journals of Benjamin Tooth by Mackenzie Crook

This is the story of 11 year old Benjamin Tooth, recorded so future generations can study the progress of a genius. "These are the recently discovered journals of Benjamin Tooth: alchemist, inventor and discoverer of the Windvale sprites. They chronicle his journey of scientific discovery from pompous boy to mad old man in his pursuit of the sprites on Windvale Moor. The sprites hold the key to eternal life, and Tooth is determined to capture it. A companion volume to The Windvale Sprites, The Lost Journals will be published on 7/11/13 with an exciting treasure hunt campaign to find Benjamin Tooth's lost statue. With clues ingeniously placed throughout the book, readers will love to follow the adventure beyond the written page."

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalup

Zombies - a popular topic with young readers and bots especially will enjoy this pacy novel. Toxic cattle feed from the meat processing plant is is turning cows into flesh-craving monsters.... ZOMBIES!!! Three boys decide to start an undercover investigation into the dodgy practices - with nothing to help but baseball bats!  Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi effectively uses humour and high-intensity action to take on hard-hitting themes - from food safety to racism and immigration - and creates a zany, grand-slam adventure that will get kids thinking about where their food comes from.

The Secret Kingdom: Stones of Ravenglass by Jenny Nimmo

I have to confess that fantasy is not my favourite genre, but Jenny Nimmo's spellbinding writing could change my mind! Timoken, the lost king of a secret kingdom that was destroyed by wicked viridees, believes he has found a new home in a castle in medieval Britain. But when an evil steward takes control of the castle, he imprisons Timoken and wreaks havoc on surrounding villages. With the help of Gabar the talking camel, a mysterious wizard and a friendly dragon, Timoken escapes and embarks on a journey to find and rescue his friends – and build himself a kingdom to call home for good. Some trilogies definitely need to be read in sequence, and this is one of them, so do look out for The Secret Kingdom and read it first.

The Secret Kingdom: Leopards' Gold by Jenny Nimmo

Many years have passed since King Timoken settled in Britain, and his majestic home is protected by the wizards Llyr and Eri, whose powerful enchantments make the great Red Castle and its people invisible whenever danger threatens. Then the castle bellman disappears. A trace of blood on the stairs is the only clue as to his fate. Could there be a traitor in their midst? Petrello and Tolomeo, the most inquisitive of Timoken’s nine children, are determined to solve the mystery. Strong and powerful, this is a compelling series and the publication of this third book means you can enjoy the whole series without waiting between books!  I love the way the characters are depicted and develop through the trilogy. Anyone who enjoyed the Charlie Bone series will enjoy finding out what went before and that adds an additional level of interest as we learn the origin of Charlie's magical powers.

A Slightly Jones Mystery: The Case of the Hidden City by Joan Lennon

This is the first book I have seen in this series, although it is the fourth and last - I will definitely be on the lookout for the rest as I really enjoyed this. Overtones of Sherlock Holmes and an authentic Victorian (although Parisian) background. make this an excellent read with plenty of tension as well as highly enjoyable text and entertaining dialogue.  Slightly Jones, summoned to Paris by a mysterious telegram, is about to discover its sinister side. Rumours are rife that a shadowy organisation called The Hidden City are behind a wave of stolen paintings. Then an artist s muse disappears too . . . Out of her country for the first time, Slightly Jones soon finds herself out of her depth as well. Will she be lost forever under the streets of Paris? I thoroughly enjoyed the story. There's a great website to support the books too, at

Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke

Eleven-year-old Jon Whitcroft never expected to enjoy boarding school. He never expected to be confronted by a pack of vengeful ghosts either. And then he meets Ella, a quirky new friend with a taste for adventure... Together, Jon and Ella must work to uncover the secrets of a centuries-old murder, while being haunted by ghosts intent on revenge. So when Jon summons the ghost of the late knight Longspee for his protection, there's just one question - can Longspee really be trusted? A thrilling tale of bravery, friendship - and ghosts!

In A Jam (Roller Girls) by Megan Sparks

Tyler is Annie's first boyfriend, so although she finds him very controlling, she thinks that is the norm. In her efforts to please Tyler, Annie misses some practise and finds herself sidelined - time for some serious thinking. In the same series is Boot Camp Blues (Roller Girls) which finds Annie on her own and confused by her emotions. The girls' friendship is threatened by their rivalry to be part of the all-star team. This is just the sort of series that tween girls love, with friendship a strong feature. Curious Fox is a relatively new imprint but they are already producing plenty of books guaranteed to interest young readers.

Arctic Adventure (Robot Races) by Axel Lewis

Jimmy and his robot Cabbie have safely come through the canyon and jungle stages of the children's special Robot Races. In the next exciting instalment, the racers are whisked off to the Arctic, where they have a choice of three routes, each really difficult. As if that's not enough, the other drivers aren't playing fair... The fourth adventure, Desert Disaster (Robot Races) sees another huge challenge for our pair, as they not only face the challenge of racing through the Sahara but have the added element of clues to solve. Boys will relish this fast-moving, action-packed adventure series, which is an easy read, with short chapters, and yet very exciting.

Laura and Silky (City Farm) by Jessie Williams

The City Farm is a haven where troubled children go and find their confidence restored, making their lives so much better. It's an interesting premise and the series makes for an excellent read as well as showing children that there are different ways to approach resolving problems. As in Laura's case, the issues may not be of their own making - her life changed completely when meningitis left her blind. She wants to show that even though she can't see, she can still be useful including helping out the farm's sick cat. In Sammi and Dusty (City Farm) Sammi, who has come from Afghanistan, finds help and solace at the farm, especially with Dusty the donkey. Of course, children will thoroughly enjoy the animal element of the books, but I particularly like the way the books tackle a range of different problems and show a happy resolution in a reassuring way.

How to Betray a Dragon's Hero (How To Train Your Dragon) by Cressida Cowell

High up in the treacherous mists of the Murderous Mountains, Hiccup and the Company of the Dragonmark are in hiding. The witch's Spydragons are guarding the shores of Tomorrow - but Hiccup is determined to become King of the Wilderwest. Can Hiccup dodge the dragons and steal the King's Things back from Alvin before the Doomsday of Yule? And is there a traitor in Hiccup's camp who in the end will betray them all? Publication date 26 September 2013.

The Lost Gods (Sleeping Army) by Francesca Simon

In the gripping sequel to The Sleeping Army we return to Francesca Simon's brilliantly evoked Norse England. Now the Norse gods are back, thanks to Freya's help, does anyone care? Up in Asgard, it doesn't really feel like it. The Gods' popularity on earth is waning, and without regular worship, their powers are fading fast. Meanwhile, their ancient enemies, the Frost Giants, are stirring. So the Gods hatch a plan - they'll come back down to earth, and they'll pursue a very different kind of popularity... A hilarious tale which will elecit plenty of laughs - a good classroom read-aloud.

Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll

Will Tilly dare to go ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall? Since the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake, nobody goes there. But Tilly never turns down a dare... But it all goes wrong and Tilly finds herself being rescued by Kit Barrington's ghost. Kit needs Tilly to help him solve the mystery of his death, so Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. It's a creepy place - it's all about the dead here, she's told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . . . A good old-fashioned ghost story which is an excellent read.  Publication 3 October 2013.

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

 12 year old Safer is a self appointed spy who recruits his new neighbour Georges. Georges' first assignment? To track the mysterious Mr X, who lives in the flat upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: what is a game and what is a lie? How far is too far to go for your only friend? The characters are well-drawn and the reader will enjoy their story about family and friendship. A captivating and thoughtful book which is ideal for both boys and girls - it would make an excellent class reader for Years 5 and 6. I predict we will hear a lot more about this outstanding book.

The Fabulous Four Fish Fingers by Jason Beresford

A fantastic book with hilarious characters who will be appreciated as much by adults as by children - so a good story to read aloud with your child. Gary, Ruby, Bel and Morris, ordinary on the surface, become super heroes. And as super heroes, The Chimp, Nightingale, KangaRuby and Slug Boy must stop super-scary (and super-hairy) villains Jumper Jack Flash and The Panteater from stealing all the sweets (and pants) in Tumchester. But first the Fabulous Four Fish Fingers need to learn to work as a team (and remember not to step on Slug Boy).Well written and imaginative, this is a book which will get readers hooked right from the beginning as they meet The Panteater on the very first page...

Eva & the Hidden Diary by Judi Curtin

Eva Gordon's great at solving problems - problems that happen now, that is. But can she right wrongs from the past? She and Kate find an old diary, written by a girl their own age, whose father was imprisoned despite protesting his innocence. Can they find out the truth? But there are worries in their present lives too - Kate's dad and step-mum may return to London and Kate is torn as she loves Seacove. It's an unusual theme for a story but well handled and with believable, well-drawn characters who appeal to the reader.

Connie and Rollo by Dick King-Smith

Two unusually clever children start in this entertaining book. Connie, right from when she learns to speak, can add up the biggest of numbers in her head. And all Rollos first words are in rhyme. But are these abilities beneficial or not? Well, you'll have to read the book for yourself to find out!Two short stories with plenty of drawings, and just right for new young readers.

Billy the Bird by Dick King-Smith

Even though the family name is Bird, nobody in the family has ever been able to fly before - until Mary finds her little brother Billy floating above his bed, with his nose, tummy and toes touching the ceiling. An unusual story with a magical touch. These are very attractive editions of Dick King-Smith books - almost square in format with strongly coloured covers, they will add up to a super collection.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

Even the cover gave me the feel of a good old-fashioned family story - and I wasn't disappointed! A strong family bond is the keynote of these books, which I find reminiscent of Noel Streatfeild, whose books I loved as a child. The sisters are very different - Rosalind, is responsible and practical; Skye, stubborn and feisty; Jane' the dreamy one and Batty the shy one - but they have a close bond. And then there's Hound the dog. The girls and their absent-minded father find themselves on a huge estate called Arundel for their summer holidays and soon they become embroiled in all sorts of scrapes with new-found friend, Jeffrey - but his mother, the icy-hearted Mrs Tifton, must be avoided at all costs. This really is a delightful series and refreshingly down-to-earth with warm, likeable characters.

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall

Another book in this excellent series - and I hope there will be many more! A sad beginning but the story soon turns into a warm family story. Mr Penderwick’s sister has decided it’s time for him to start dating ... but the girls come up with a brilliant plan. But, of course, there are lots of other things going on for this busy family - Rosalind can’t seem to get the annoying Tommy Geiger out of her hair; Skye loses her temper on the soccer field; Jane’s love of creative writing leads her into deep water, and Batty’s getting into mischief spying on the new next-door neighbour. Different sisters, different problems but they are always there for each other in this well-written feel-good story.

Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster by Jacqueline Harvey

This is the second in a delightful series. "Clementine Rose was delivered not in the usual way, at a hospital, but in the back of a mini-van, in a basket of dinner rolls." So begins the story of a very special little girl. Clementine Rose grows up with her adopted mother, Lady Clarissa, their butler, Digby Pertwhistle, and a very tiny teacup pig named Lavender. In the first book, Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor Clementine's scary Aunt Violet visits and the household is thrown into disarray. What is it that Aunt Violet really wants, and what is she hiding in her mysterious black bag?  Clementine Rose is a lovely character and girls will readily identify with her life and adventures - Jacqueline Harvey really picks up on how girls feel. In this story, In The Pet Day Disaster, Clementine Rose is very excited to be off to school for the first time - but will she be allowed to bring her teacup pig Lavender into school - and could the two of them even win a prize on Pet Day

School for Stars: Second Term at L'Etoile by Kelly Willoughby

This is the second in a super series for star-struck girls. Christmas is over and Molly, Maria and Pippa are back for their second term at L'Etoile, the exclusive School for Stars. Molly, Maria and Pippa are reunited for another term full of fun and surprises. A midnight mystery, a precious lost rose, centenary celebrations, a playful puppy with a twinkle in its eyes, and a royal visit are just some of the things that make them friends for ever.

I am So Over Being a Loser (Barry Loser) by Jim Smith

This hugely enjoyable and highly comical series is perfect to encourage boys (and girls) to read and to help them realise that reading can be the most wonderful fun. 'My mum's embarrassing enough just being my mum, but now she's won The Voice of Feeko's competition it's even worse.' Just imagine having a mum who is a celebrity on posters eating a chocolate digestive or wiggling her bum in a pair of jeans. Luckily, Barry is a resilient guy and he soon bounces back, with the help of his napkin collection (yes, you did redd that right!) new girl Nancy Verkenwerken and a snail called Snailypoos.

The Sandman and the Turtles by Michael Morpurgo

This colour edition with illustrations by Tony Ross is the ideal way to introduce young readers to the work of a master storyteller. Michael loves his grandfather's stories about the Sandman and the turtles, but he doesn't believe that they are real... but that's about to change, because the Sandman when the Sandman comes to life. Michael and his cousins Barry and Polly are going to need his help. A captivating story with believable characters and a well depicted setting.

The Bomber Dog by Megan Rix

Grey is a brave puppy who joins the paratroopers during the Second World War and becomes a heroic war dog. His trainer, equally brave, is Nathan; Wolf is an experienced war dog. The loyalty between dog and trainer means they become inseparable - but this is war. When things go wrong, Grey faces his most important mission yet: to find his best friend. With Wolf at his side, he must journey across France and behind enemy lines, putting themselves in extreme danger. This is an exceptionally well written book, full of tension and a wonderful reflection of the relationship between man and animal. It's also an excellent insight into the work done by dogs during the war and a super way to inspire finding out more about the part animals played.

On Planet Fruitcake by Anne Fine

As we expect from the former Children's Laureate, she spins an excellent story. Philip has an fantastic imagination, and when he lets it run riot in school one day it really gets his classmates thinking. What is Planet Fruitcake like? Purple cows ...brains in pots ...a clever and beautiful chicken...What will they think of next? This imaginative story will give young readers plenty to think about.

Welsh Cakes and Custard by Wendy White

Life is exciting when you are five and your world is full of new experiences. Betsi Wyn is trying out lots of things - school dinners, concerts, pirate parties and all for the very first time. That's when it's good to have friends. Like Emyr Rhys, who knows about Welsh cakes and clog dancing. And Mam-gu ...who knows about everything else! This delightful collection of stories about Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys by new author Wendy White explores the world of early childhood. Emyr Rhys's Welsh cake recipe and Betsi Wyn's version of Hen Fenyw Fach Cydweli add to the fun in this captivating book for parents and children.

Jack and the German Spy by Bernard Ashley

It's excellent to see a new book from this talented author who never shies away from the gritty side of life. 1939 and at the start of the Second World War everyone's afraid of spies. When Jack arrives in a Kent with the other wartime evacuees from London, no one wants to take him in - he's a real handful. Lady Ashwell does her duty and takes him off to the Hall, where Jack makes friends with her son son Clive - a completely opposite character. Clive learns how to fight dirty and when events in the night turn nasty, the boys team up to unmask a sinister enemy. Excellently written - a gripping story.

First Term at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton has had many critics over the years and her books have been in and out of favour. The important thing though, is that she has enthused many many children for reading - me included. I can still clearly remember reading her books avidly and I am quite sure they got me hooked on reading. So, I think it's great that the Malory Towers books are still available.Darrell and her friends grow together as they share their school days. There are new students to induct, sporting matches to be won, tempers to control and tricks to play on teachers. This work presents stories about life at boarding school as readers follow the girls' lives through 6 years at Malory Towers

In the Fifth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

Darrell and friends begin the Fifth form and find two unpopular girls, Catherine and Moira, have been left kept down. Moira is made head girl and clashes with Alicia and others. At the beginning of term  the fifth formers learn they are going to be writing and producing a play at the end of the term - they decide on Cinderella. It's good to follow the adventures of the girls through their school life and readers will really enjoy meeting the familiar characters through the series - and there are always plenty of adventures.

Summer Term at Malory Towers by Pamela Cox

Pamela Cox is a life-long fan of Enid Blyton's work and she has written books 7 to 12 in the Malory Towers series, which follow the adventures of Darrell's younger sister Felicity. This is the third of her books and I really think that there are few readers who would spot the new writer. There's a mystery at the nearby stables - someone has stolen money and then poor Julie's horse! Can the third form help old girls Bill and Clarissa discover who is behind it? Saddle up to find out! In Fun and Games at Malory Towers new girl Millicent clashes with the feisty June over the school's priorities: a music concert or tennis tournament? But both pale into insignificance when it's found there's a thief in the fifth form. Secrets at Malory Towers finds Felicity as Head Girl of Malory Towers! Eager to prove herself, she has her hands full with naughty first formers, and a very mysterious new form-mate who is strangely familiar ...

I'm a Chicken, Get Me Out Of Here! by Anna Wilson

Oh dear, poor Titch - the chicken wasn't quite what Wilf's mum ordered from the internet. When Wilf is allowed to keep her, the other animals - a dopey dog, a snooty cat and a fussy guinea pig are jealous. But when it turns out all the creatures are in danger, Titch needs to work out how they can all escape...It's great fun with some super characters - human and animal!  As a past editor of children's books, Anna Wilson knows her market intimately and she has used that insight to write a book perfectly geared to appeal to her readers.

Dixie O'Day: In The Fast Lane by Shirley Hughes

This new series combines the talents of Shirley Hughes and illustrator (and Shirley's daughter) Clara Vulliamy and it promises to be a great hit. Two friends, Dixie O'Day the car-loving dog and his friend Percy the cat are the stars who are always having adventures. Meet Dixie at the beginning of the book and you'll discover he is a very likeable character. When the pair enter the All-Day Car Race, they really don't know what to expect and soon find plenty of surprises. The chapters can be read as separate stories, ideal for new readers, and the illustrations add interest and vitality as well as enhancing understanding.

Elephants Never Forget (WWF Wild Friends) by Linda Chapman and Michelle Misra

As a little girl, Emily was photographed with an elephant and when her parents plan a trip to Africa, she determines to find her old friend - will Kihari remember Emily? Another new release in the series is WWF Wild Friends: Orang-utan Adventure finds Emily off to Borneo, trying to save the tree top homes of orang-utans. This is a super animal series for young readers which has the added benefit of highlighting the plight of wild creatures who are under threat; the books also include information about the WWF, animal facts, a set of photos, games and puzzles. The stories are fun to read and engaging for young readers as they get to know Emily better through the series and follow her adventures.

Archie's Unbelievably Freaky Week by Andrew Norriss

In just one week, how can one boy possibly get accused of murder, trapped in the staff cloakroom(naked! and turn himself into a dog... and that's not all! Luckily, his best friend Cyd is there to sort out the problems. Clever and inventive, this is a well written story which, despite the catastrophes, manages to remain credible. A fabulous read for children.

Attack of the Cupids (Muddle & Win) by John Dickinson

The hilarious sequel to Muddle and Win starts with an uneasy truce between Sally's devil, Muddlespot, and her angel, Windleberry... until the Cupids come along. They both know that when True Love is involved, things aren't simply black or white - they're horribly, confusingly pink! Sure enough, a heart-tipped golden arrow makes Sally's sister Billie fall for Tony, the hottest, and most off-limits, boy in school. War breaks out at Darlington High, and as usual it's up to Sally to put things right. But can she undo the damage without getting caught in the crossfire?

Daisy and the Trouble with Burglars (Daisy Books) by Kes Gray

Unusually, this is quite a substantial novel recommended for readers of 5+ - I like that, as it does give confident young readers a real challenge and an excellent story to tackle. The amount of text on each page is not overwhelming - wide margins and large font help here. Whatever happens, Daisy just can't help getting into trouble! When three burglaries happen in Daisy's town, Daisy wants to help. Together with Gabby and Dylan, she forms her own detective agency. Armed with a notebook, a magnifying glass, a camera and a box of icing sugar, she sets out on the burglars' trail. She's a lovely character. There are lots of illustrations and these are really entertaining and help the storyline.

Atticus Claw Lends a Paw by Jennifer Gray

Newly promoted Atticus Claw is back and his talents are needed to investigate when the kittens at the local cats' home are suspected of a knitting crime spree. Surprisingly, his investigations take him from Littleton-on-Sea right to the sands of the Egyptian desert. Can Atticus keep one claw ahead of Ginger Biscuit, Jimmy Magpie and his gang and reach the treasure? I think children will love this, with its short chapters, quirky humour, lots of dialogue and plenty of action.

Ellie May Can Definitely be Trusted to Keep a Secret by Marianne Levy

A brilliant sideways look at fame and ambition. "Dear Everybody I'm an incredibly famous film star! I get interviewed in magazines and I'm friends with other celebrities and I know it's bad to gossip so I hardly ever do. And that means I am very good at keeping secrets. Right now I'm keeping loads and loads! For example, I've never told anyone that my chaperone Jeffrey likes to sing in the toilet and ...oh dear. Love, Ellie May xxx." Ellie May is a hilarious heroine and girls will thoroughly enjoy her escapades.

Sammy Feral's Diaries of Weird: Hell Hound Curse by Eleanor Hawken

Sammy, Red and Donny decide to promote their cryptozoology business - investigating animals that don't exist. What could possibly go wrong? Everything! Hired to check out sightings of a ghost dog, the friends uncover the terrifying legend of the Hell Hound. Anyone who is seen by this terrible beast is struck with a death curse. So when Sammy's best friend Mark runs into the deadly dog, Sammy knows he doesn't have long to figure out how to save him! Weird? Definitely. Engaging? Definitely. Packed with fun, this will delight young readers

Space Pirates: Stowaway by Jim Ladd

Not your usual pirates, these are a dastardly gang of space pirates - but with all the attributes of sea pirates. So why would Sam ask for their help? Because his parents are stranded on Planet X, that's why. But when they refuse to help, Sam has to stow away - in a barrel of revolting glugspawn. Can things get worse? Read this hilarious story and you'll find out - it's great fun and the illustrations make it even funnier.

Edwin Spencer: Spirit World by J. D. Irwin

If you have been following Edwin Spencer's adventures through the first two books in the series, make sure you don't miss the exciting finale. The books have the perfect ingredients for boys - action, adventure, fantasy, humour and some scary moments to keep interest high. Divided between two worlds, Edwin Spencer longs for the life he left behind in Hysteria where he was someone of importance. But adventure is soon in the offing when a ghost-conjuring relic soon has him heading once more into the vortex to save the parallel word, helped as always by his know-it-all best friend Perpetua.

Magic Ink by Steve Cole

When Stewart Penders' granddad dies, he leaves his house and all its contents to Stewart's family - but the greatest gift Granddad left Stew was his love of comic books. Stuart loves drawing his own creations, especially the adventures of his fantasy alter ego, Stupendous Man! . When Stew explores their new house , he finds a discarded comic strip in the attic - featuring an image of the pig he saw running around the house. There's a pot of ink beside it and magically, when Stew starts drawing, his pictures come to life - with hilarious results. Unusual and entertaining, this is an excellent read, enlivened by lots of cartoon-style illustrations.

Pants Are Everything by Mark Lowery

If your child wants a laugh-aloud read, look no further! Could things really be looking up for Michael Swarbrick? A date with the girl of his dreams which includes a donkey ride and skinny dipping - oh no - disaster is close by! In a series of disasters he is arrested, becomes a local celebrity and even an internet sensation. Why, you may ask - you'll have to read this hilarious story to find the answer...

Frankie's Magic Football: Frankie vs The Rowdy Romans by Frank Lampard

Frankie and his team love playing football and their magical football means they play games beyond their wildest dreams. This time, the football transports them to a Roman arena; but does the magic football guarantee success? Just seeing Frankie Lampard's name on the cover will ensure plenty of enthusiastic readers - and they won't be disappointed. The choice of the first in the series to be part of the 2013 Summer Reading Challenge is a great accolade.

The Good Little Devil and Other Tales by Pierre Gripari

A quirky modern take on fairy tales, these 13 stories show how clever youngsters overcome the traditional wicked characters with  the help of a little bit of magic. Translated from the French, this much-loved French classic has been brought to the English market for the first time. The stories are refreshingly different with some varied characters - the little devil who wants wants to be good; the deli owner of rue Broca, Bachir's clairvoyant doll and the love story of a potato and a guitar - improbable but charming.

The Warrior Sheep Go Jurassic by Christine and Christopher Russell

From the start, I loved the look of this book with the sheep depicted on a chair lift as the cover picture, and the story definitely lived up to its cover. This is the fourth hilarious adventure in the brilliant Warrior Sheep series - do try and read the others. What is this dangerous egg which threatens to put the world into danger? Whatever it is, the intrepid Warrior Sheep know one thing for certain must never hatch! Off they set across the Isle of Wight on a barmy adventure, full of hilarity. Great fun.

Mortimer Keene: Attack of the Slime by Tim Healey and Chris Mould

This eye-catching book stands out for its presentation and the story (told in rhyme) is just as good as I'd hoped. It's the first in a series for new readers, and it stars Mortimer Slime who is full of crazy ideas. THe school is being swallowed up with slime - could Mortimer be the culprit? A task force of teachers investigates... A wonderfully inventive story, superbly presented and full of amazing illustrations. Brilliant!

The Great Brain Robbery (Fantastic Frankie) by Anna Kemp

Welcome the return of Frankie and his friends as they try to save the world from another diabolical scheme by the evil Dr Gore. This time he's planning to infiltrate the dreams of children everywhere using his army of robot toys! Can Frankie and his friends stop him before it's too late? The story romps along, drawing the reader with it and proving a real delight for newly confident readers and a great way to introduce them to the joy of reading.

Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve

Finally, Oliver thinks his explorer parents have settled - but his hopes are dashed when they disappear - and it's Oliver's chance for a big adventure - with some very unlikely friends. There's Mr Culpeper, the grumpy old albatross, Iris, the short-sighted mermaid and a friendly island called Cliff. Before he can put his rescue plan into action he must contend with the evil Stacey de Lacey and an army of greasy, green sea monkeys. It's one of those books that you just keep reading as you are absorbed in one unlikely and hilarious escapade after another. Wonderful fun, endlessly imaginative and superbly illustrated by Sarah McIntyre. Publication date September 2013.

Diary Of Dorkius Maximus In Egypt by Tim Collins

Another brilliant book, which more than lives up to the promise of the first. The brilliant follow up to Diary Of Dorkius Maximus finds Dorkius in Egypt - invited by Julius Caesar, no less! In a hilarious series of escapades, Dorkius meets the 13-year-old King Ptolemy and his sister Cleopatra. Written in diary form with plenty of amusing cartoon ilustrations (with some hilarious annotations), the format is ideal for young readers. Dorkius is a likeable character who paints a realistic picture of himself - and on the way, the reader learns lots about life in ancient times.

Ghosts of the Forest: The Falcon Chronicles 2 by Steve Backshall

Book 2 in the series finds Sinter nursing in the shanties of Ho Chi Minh city and Saker with the Penan helping them protect the orang utans. But danger lurks - the Prophet has not forgiven their betrayal. Escaping the Clan takes Saker and Sinter on a deadly, dangerous journey through Vietnam, over the South China Sea back to Borneo. Deep in the jungle, they're reunited on their most daredevil and audacious mission yet, to save the endangered orang utans before they become ghosts of the forest. An action-packed story which keeps the reader hooked all the way through; a very important message too, about the protection of our fragile planet and its creatures.

Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door by Ross Montgomery

An intriguing title - always a good start! Immediately, the reader thinks this book will be out of the ordinary and you won't be disappointed. Alex Jennings is a boy with a problem - well, three problems actually. He's been sent to boarding school; his father is a failed explorer and Davidus Kyte and all his henchmen are after him, convinced he alone knows the meaning of the word 'squiggles'. With the help of a talking dog and a girl with unfeasibly sharp teeth, he just might have what it takes to cross the Forbidden Lands, escape the evil Davidus Kyte, and find out what lies beyond the Cusp... An unusual and exciting story.

Mulberry and the Summer Show (Meadow Vale Ponies) by Che Golden

Pony-mad Sam has a very special gift - she can talk to horses. Can she use this to help overcome her nervousness? Is Sam the one who can ride beautiful but bad-tempered Mulberry to success in the Meadow Vale Summer Show? The writing is fun and light in tone, making this a thoroughly enjoyable read, horse-mad or not. The illustrations are great fun too and allow the reader to visualise the story. The book includes horse facts and a set of stickers. More in the series are planned, which is good news.

Frozen in Time by Ali Sparkes

Freddy and Polly's father is a genius, and up to now, his experiments have worked fine - but this time things go wrong and they are frozen in time. They are woken over 50 years later by Ben and Rachel who find the hidden underground vault in the garden. But that's not all - when Rachel accidentally presses a button, something unbelievable happens... Can Polly and Freddy adapt to the twenty-first century? Will their bodies survive having been in suspension for so long? And most important of all, what happened to their father-and why did he leave them frozen in time? A gripping story which explores how two children adapt to life in the 21st century.



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